As promised, I’m sharing my insights from the Gazelles/Fortune Leadership Summit that I attended last week.  Today I’ll relate what I gathered from master turnaround executive Greg Brenneman.  Tomorrow:  master leadership coach and author Marshall Goldsmith.  Wednesday:  master public sector executive and author Mark Aesch. Stay tuned.

Greg Brenneman certainly spoke with the authority of experience.  Former CEO of Burger King, PwC, and was involved in turning around Continental Airlines.  Currently serves on the boards of Home Depot and ADP.  As you can see he is experienced.  Mostly from a “corporate point of view” meaning in creating these turnarounds he had both the moxie to create change in huge organizations and the resources to work with.  But I found lessons for mid and small businesses nonetheless.

Underlying concept:  “Must adopt the attitude that you are in perpetual turnover/turnaround mode.”  Things are changing in the world that fast.  You must be changing too.

Best Quote:  ” A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”

Five Tools Managing in a Slow Growth/Uncertain Environment
1.  Build a Fortress Balance Sheet--Like Fort Knox, protecting your cash and assets
2. Have a Plan:  A “Go Forward Plan” –A One Pager listing out the “Go Forward” actions in these four areas:  Market, Financials, Product, People.  With Metrics on all of them. “The fastest way to make money is to stop doing things that lose money.”
3.  Think Money In–Not Money Out.  “Can’t save your way to prosperity”  Get the customer traffic up. 
4.  Clean House--The team that put you in crisis will rarely pull you out of it.  Get an “A” Team and focus them on the plan and only on the things in the plan.  Spend 33% of your time or more on coaching the A players. 
5.  Let the Inmates Run the Asylum–In other words, get out of their way.  Let them work.  Let them rewrite the plan for their portion of the plan. Hold them accountable to it and support them, but let them do it.

He also had an interesting way to report on progress,  He eschews email.  People don’t read it and don’t get the gravity/excitement/clarity needed when reporting on the “Go Forward Plan.”  He advocates a Company-Wide Voicemail Every Friday, detailing all progress accomplished that week from the Go Forward plan.  “This is what happened this week.”  It conveys progress, confidence, and momentum while giving just a bit of peer pressure to those not contributing. 

Great perspective from an expert.  What do you think?